At its best, comic book cover art gets you to buy a comic you would otherwise pass by. At its worst, the art is ridiculed and overshadows the content of the comic itself. But good or bad, how often does one mention cover art in a comic book review? Even the best designed cover may get a quick mention, but rarely is cover art extensively evaluated. When the series itself is under-appreciated, the cover art is even less likely to be discussed. One artist worthy of more recognition is David Yardin, who is doing standout work on the Marvel series X-Factor. The Peter David penned series about mutant private eye Madrox and company has remained under the radar since its relaunch in 2005, which is unfortunate since it is consistently one of Marvel's best books. It is hard to imagine that any title could survive for that long at Marvel without Captain, Amazing, or Wolverine in the name but the book has a lot going for it. From the stable character roster, humorous yet moving stories form David, and frequently excellent interior artists, the series also has David Yardin creating amazing cover artwork for the book, especially in the last year. Considering that a vast majority of cover work these days consists of barely informative character pin-ups, Yardin's work on X-Factor remains a standout on the stands, especially surrounded by the less than distinguishable x-titles. Here are some of our favorite X-Factor covers, followed by a few words from the artist himself on his process and experience working on X-Factor.
Yardin's first contribution to the series as cover artist was issue #40. A memorable turning point in the series, Madrox, seen with his priest dupe Maddox, is about to be confronted by a now much older Layla Miller. Yardin shows Jamie at his lowest point in the series, and doesn't hold back in displaying that vulnerability. The mixture of anguish and surprise on the face of Madrox is particularly well done, and can be further appreciated when viewed in black and white. You don't know it till you've read the book, but Layla, seen here on the cover, is most definitely the savior of Jamie as she brings him into light from the shadows.
What a fantastic way to show that Spidey is going to make a cameo in the book. We still have star Madrox on the cover, stopped in his tracks by an incriminating spotlight. This cover quickly reveals that Spider-Man will show up, and Madrox may be in trouble. I'm sold.
It's obvious to anyone familiar with the character of Rahne that Yardin has the character pegged. A conflicted soul convinced she is going to hell for her sins, this cover beautifully depicts the inner turmoil the character faces, and faces alone despite the willing support of her surrounding teammates. The splash of blood and the horror movie like tagline are perfect touches for the twist you know is coming.
Marvel's Point One initiative is meant to entice new readers by offering standalone issues as introductions to the titles. It makes sense for this issue to have a heroic portrait of our team, and Yardin appropriately focuses on featuring the core of characters and not the long ongoing plot lines. Simplicity at its best, and inviting to readers looking for a jumping on point.
This cover is my favorite of Yardin's X-Factor work thus far. In addition to the striking imagery, it is a great example of how Yardin uses color effectively. Is that blood dripping from Madrox's face? Sweat? Maybe both? That ambiguity comes from the sparsity in the color pallet. That combined with the use of negative space, your eyes go straight to those pupils surrounded by red. As a reader, seeing that fear and exhaustion makes me anxious to find out what has put Jamie in this state of shock.
Not every cover that grabs you has to be dramatic. One of X-Factor's many strengths is the title's ability to balance frequent humor amongst operatic tragedy. Would you believe that this is about Rahne's teammates trying to save her from a deep depression? You don't need to know why these ladies are taking a road trip, but it looks like a damn good time, and that's something that a lot of superhero books don't show often enough.
This was one cover that made me sit up and take notice. Often when cover art focuses on design elements, indications of the story within are sacrificed. That is not the case here, as the Mondrian inspired windows offer glimpses of intrigue into the book's multiple story lines. It is a cover that encourages further study, and maybe an unplanned purchase as well.
This cover for the Layla centric story implies that we may learn a bit more about her mysterious powers. Can she see into the future? Or does she travel through dimensions, time, and space? With multiple shadows of herself running in different directions, the answer may be all of the above. Even without knowing, readers will be intrigued by the possibilities.
Peter David always introduces the comics with a recap page, but he doesn't often hint at upcoming stories. That makes it all the more noticeable when he and editors says that something big is on the horizon. When Marvel released this cover artwork for X-Factor #243, we saw that the big storyline would involve Havok, Polaris, and her father Magneto. Things are not looking up for the mysterious couple, and judging by the sinister shadowed father figure in the background, Magneto is the likely cause of Polaris' strife. The issue came out this week, so you don't have to wait to find out more!
That's all for our cover analysis. Follow the jump to read the Q&A with the artist himself!